HP to Tout c-Class Blades at Its Technology Forum

The company will also highlight the advances it has made with its year-old blade architecture.

When Hewlett-Packard kicks off its Technology Forum in Las Vegas on June 18, those in attendance can expect a healthy dose of talk about the companys c-Class blade architecture.

BladeSystem c-Class blade servers, which HP first debuted a year ago this month, will not be the only company highlight at the show, but the architecture will be on prominent display throughout the week.

In the blade space, HP is hoping to keep the momentum that started when it switched from its ProLiant blade architecture to the newer c-Class blades, which company executives claimed would be denser and have better management abilities. At the same time, HP claimed the new blade systems would cut down on power and cooling costs.

The emphasis on c-Class, and the Palo Alto, Calif., companys "blade everything" mantra, has paid off in some part, according to IDC. In its May 23 quarterly server report, the research firm found that HP held the number one spot in blade market with a 40.9 percent share, while IBM held the second position with 35.2 percent.

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Overall, HPs market revenue grew nearly 50 percent from the first quarter of 2006 to the first quarter of 2007, IDC found.

"We will be highlighting c-Class as well as HPs adaptive infrastructure strategy and I think youll see a lot of that highlighted on the showroom floor," said Mark Potter, vice president of HPs BladeSystems unit. "With c-Class and the adaptive infrastructure, HP is looking to provide an overall solution."

In addition to highlighting its current offerings, HP is expected to detail a new tape storage blade that it will add to the portfolio. There will be other demonstrations of all the c-Class architecture as well, including the products ability to work with virtualization technology.

Potter added that HPs strategy with its blades has been to address several key issues involving the hardware—power and cooling; ability to make changes to the firmware; ease of deployment; cost and energy savings–while providing a "holistic" approach that includes management software and services.

HPs approach to the blade market may prove critical to keeping its momentum going in this particular space. IBM announced June 14 that it would offer a blade specifically aimed at small and midsize businesses, an area that has gone ignored since the blade market first took off.

Dell is also expected to introduce a new blade architecture this year that could compete for these SMB customers as well.

In the enterprise space, Sun Microsystems launched a new blade system—the Sun Blade 6000 Modular System—on June 6. The new Sun blades allow users to mix and match Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and UltraSPARC processors in the same chassis.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about the war of words between HP and IBM.

Even with these changes, Potter said HP was sticking to its roadmap and would offer new c-Class products aimed at enterprises, as well as the midmarket and SMBs. He chided IBM for announcing its BladeCenter S system nearly two full quarters before it will be available to the companys channel partners and their SMB customers.

"Everybody is in this market, but they need to think about it from a customers perspective and what their infrastructure needs are," Potter said.

So far, HP customers and partners have been pleased with the results and most hope the company continues to push forward with the c-Class architecture.

Arlin Sorensen, the CEO of Heartland Technology Solutions, an HP VAR headquartered in Harland, Iowa, said his company has been selling c-Class blades for about six months to enterprise and midmarket companies. So far, the reaction has been positive and he is eager for a blade aimed at his SMB customers.

"The solution center that HP has built around has been very successful for us and HP makes sure we understand the technology," Sorensen said. "Its become a major component for our customers and its very easy for them to manage."

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